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The Manual of Animal Rights

by David Cowles-Hamar

(Reprinted with permission from The Vegan)

(Electronic Version Created by Larry Kaiser)



1 It's natural for humans to eat meat

The human physiology, like that of our closest living relatives -- the great apes, is vegetarian in design. The structure of our skin, teeth, stomach and bowels, the length of our digestive system, the composition of our saliva, stomach acids and urine etc. are all typically vegetarian.

Somewhere though, deep in our ancient history, we used our extraordinary minds to develop tools that overcame our physical limitations and enabled us to kill other animals and eat their flesh. We became omnivorous in habit but our physiology, though resilient and adaptable enough to handle quantities of flesh, has always remained true to its vegetarian origins.

Stripped of our tools this becomes obvious. Imagine for example, the difficulty you would have first catching and then eating a rabbit raw -- fur, bone, sinew and all and compare that to the ease with which you could gather and eat a bowl of raw fruit or vegetables.

Perhaps more importantly, ask yourself if, when you are very hungry, you in any way feel an instinctive urge to hunt down, kill and eat another animal.

Despite our omnivorous habits human beings are designed for and thrive on a vegetarian diet. We can in fact maintain the very best in health without resorting to any animal products whatsoever (veganism). That is why vegetarianism is a moral issue for how can we justify causing the suffering and death of millions upon millions of animals if it is unnecessary?

2 Humans have always eaten meat

Meat eating is certainly among our most ancient practices (though it is worth pointing out that most of the world's human population has always been, and still is largely vegetarian and see 1) but then so are slavery, murder and war. The antiquity if a practice is neither a guarantee of its morality nor a justification for it.

3 Humans need some meat

Despite the desperate leaflets and posters put out by The Meat and Livestock Commission this idea is obsolete. Numerous medical studies have found vegans and vegetarians to be not only healthy but generally healthier than people who eat meat.

4 Meat is good for you

The British Medical Association has stated that "vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders and gall-stones".

Other research has added to this list osteoporosis, kidney stones, diabetes, gout, arthritis, appendicitis, angina, haemorroids, varicose veins and diverticular disease.

Vegans enjoy the same benefits and some of them to a greater degree.

5 Humans can eat meat and still be healthy

The human digestive system is very resilient and adaptable. We can certainly eat moderate amounts of meat as part of a balanced diet and still be healthy.

The point is that we can maintain perfect health without any meat at all and we are therefore causing the suffering and death of millions upon millions of animals every year for no better reasons than material profit and the taste of their flesh. An individual should find this morally untenable even after a very minimal consideration of animal rights.

6 Vegans and vegetarians are often unhealthy

See 4.


7 It's natural for humans to drink milk

Human beings are the only animals on earth who drink the milk of another species. This is not an ancient practice either, we thrived for hundreds of thousands of years without it and in fact it has been estimated that two thirds of the world's population cannot even digest it.

Whether you choose to describe our use of animal milk as natural or not is irrelevant. The point is that we do not need it and we therefore cannot justify the suffering and death we cause in obtaining it (see 11 and 12).

8 Humans need some milk

Milk contains some valuable nutrients for those who are able to digest it but these can all be better obtained on a vegan diet without risk of the unpleasant side effects associated with milk (see 9) and without the suffering and death involved in the dairy industry (see 11 and 12).

9 Milk is good for you

It has been estimated that 90 per cent of the world's population is deficient in the enzyme lactase, necessary for the digestion of milk sugar (lactose). This natural deficiency is quite harmless unless you drink milk in which case you can suffer symptoms such as chronic or occasional diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence, abdominal pains and possibly, in older women, osteoporosis.

Intolerance to milk is the commonest of all food allergies. Symptoms include asthma, eczema, skin rashes, chronic nasal and sinus problems, tonsillitis, ulcerative colitis, bowel irregularity, hyperactivity, depression, migraines and some forms of arthritis.

Cow's milk can cause gastro-intestinal bleeding in infants leading to anaemia and there is a proven link milk consumption and senile cataracts. In this country dairy products account for half our saturated fat intake, making them a high risk factor in heart disease -- our biggest killer.

10 We only take what the calf doesn't need

This is a very naive view. Such idyllic farmyard scenes are a thing of the distant past. The modern dairy cow has her calf taken away from her when it is 1-3 days old.

11 What happens to the calves?

The least healthy calves are usually slaughtered at a few days old (after enduring a distressing trip to market) and then processed into pet food, pies and rennet for cheese making.

Some of the females go on to become dairy herd replacements. Other calves are sold at market at 1-2 weeks old to be reared for beef production. 80 per cent of our beef is a by-product of the dairy industry.

Every year a quarter of a million calves are exported to Europe, often in appalling conditions, for veal products. They are kept in isolation in 5' x 2' crates in which they are unable even to turn around. They are given no bedding (in case they try to eat it) and are fed only on a liquid diet devoid of iron and fibre to keep their flesh pale and anaemic. After 3-5 months they are slaughtered. They probably wouldn't have lived much longer anyway.

Over 170,000 calves under 3 months old die each year due to poor husbandry and appalling treatment at markets.

12 Dairy farming doesn't harm the cows

From about 2 years of age the modern dairy cow spends 9 months of every year pregnant. Her calf is taken away from her at 1-3 days old causing them both terrible distress. She is then milked for 10 months during which time she is forced to produce 10 times the amount of milk her calf would have taken. It is not surprising that every year a third of our dairy cows suffer from mastitis -- a painful inflammation of the udder. To increase her milk yield the cow is fed on high protein concentrates but this is often not enough and she may be forced to break down her own body tissues to keep up with the continual demand ("milking off her back"). This commonly leads to a condition called acidosis which can make her lame -- lameness affects 25% of our dairy cows every year.

At about 5 years old, spent and exhausted, she is slaughtered. Her natural life span would have been around 20 years. (80 per cent of our been is a by-product of the dairy industry.)

13 Cows won't produce milk if they are not content

Cows cannot help producing milk any more than they can help producing urine.

Since the 1950s the dairy cow has been subjected to ever more intensive farming methods. Her suffering now is greater than it has ever been. In that same period her yield has increased 5 fold.


14 It's natural for humans to eat eggs

Early humans certainly did eat eggs but we must clearly distinguish between the opportunistic stone age gatherer and the modern intensive egg farmers who, in the UK alone, keep 30 million hens in tiny cages, without room even to spread their wings and who kill 35-50 million male chicks every year simply because they have no use for them.

The point is that we do not need eggs and can therefore maintain perfect health without them. We therefore cannot justify the suffering and death we cause in obtaining them (see 17 and 18).

15 Eggs are good for you

Eggs are nutritious but they can also carry salmonella and are a very common cause of allergies. All their nutrients can easily be obtained on a vegan diet without the health risks and without the enormous cruelty involved in their production (see 17 and 18).

16 Hens don't mind their eggs being taken

In the wild a hen will build herself a nest and lay about 6 eggs in as many days. If any of these are lost she is usually able to replace them, provided she has access to enough food. It is this ability to keep laying that the modern egg farmer exploits but in doing so frustrates one of the hen's most fundamental instincts: to reproduce.

17 Hens won't lay if they are not content

A hen's ovaries are controlled by light which on a battery farm is carefully regulated to simulate continuous summertime. It is this, combined with selective breeding and a carefully controlled diet that results in the modern battery hen's high output.

Conditions on a battery farm are appalling. Five birds, each with a wingspan of 32 inches are kept in cages only 20 inches wide. Their feet often become deformed from continuous standing on a sloping wire mesh.

They can never perch, ground- scratch, dust bathe or nest. Lack of exercise leads to fatty liver syndrome and brittle bones. Most of them eventually become psychotic. These birds are not "content" and yet they still lay. They will even continue to lay when seriously injured -- they simply cannot help it.

18 What's wrong with free-range eggs

Like most animals, chickens produce equal numbers of male and female offspring. But even the most conscientious free-range egg farmer has no use for the males so they are killed, in the millions, by gassing, crushing, suffocation, decompression or drowning.

The hens are kept for about 2 years until their productivity declines. They are then sent for slaughter. Their natural life span would have been 5-7 years.

19 Hens lay unfertilized eggs that would otherwise be wasted

Wild hens rarely lay unfertilized eggs. Domestic hens only do so because they are being manipulated by humans. The point is not that the eggs may go to waste but that in manipulating the hens to produce these eggs we inflict the most appalling cruelty on them (see 17 and 18).


20 Fish is good for you

The North Sea. where 40% of our fish is caught, has become so polluted that some fishermen now wear protective face masks to prevent the rashes and other skin disorders that contact with the water can cause.

Moderate amounts of fish from unpolluted waters (if there are any) are undoubtedly good for you. But there are three things to remember here: firstly, it has been clearly established that fish can and do suffer when they are caught (see 21, 22 and 132); secondly, fishing has already had a disastrous effect on the environment (fish stocks are now at their lowest level ever); and thirdly, all benefits of eating fish can be easily obtained from a vegan diet. The ethical choice is clear.

21 Fish don't feel pain

Fish have a complex nervous system and all the sensory organs necessary for the sensation of pain. It is therefore logical to assume that they do feel pain. A three year investigation by a panel of scientists and representatives from angling and shooting organisations ( the Medway Report) concluded that fish, like other vertebrates are capable of suffering.

22 Fish are free-range

Why should a free-range animal be any more deserving of an unnecessary death than any other animal? The suggestion that individuals should pay for their freedom with their lives is moral nonsense. All animals should be free and we have no right to deprive them of that freedom or their lives for such trivial reasons as money, the taste of their flesh or the pursuit of 'sport'.

23 Some points concerning fish slaughter

UK fishing vessels catch 500,000 tons of fish every year and there are no specific regulations governing their slaughter.

They die of shock, asphyxiation, crushing by the weight of the catch and freezing on ice bedding. Many, like cod, haddock, plaice, skate and sole can still be alive when landed and gutted. Eels are killed by burying in salt (it takes 2 hours) or are chopped into pieces and boiled.

Farmed fish such as salmon and trout are bled to death with or without stunning. Trout are starved for 3-6 days beforehand and may simply to taken from the water and packed in ice for transport to the market, taking up to 14 minutes to die (see also 132).


24 What about protein?

Protein deficiency is almost unheard of in the West. Vegans certainly needn't worry, the average vegan diet easily fulfills the daily protein recommendations of the Department of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Committee on Nutrition Education (NACNE).

On of the problems with animal proteins is that they usually come with saturated fats and so are a major risk factor in heart disease -- our biggest killer.

Plant proteins on the other hand are associated with dietary fibre which is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. In fact vegans as a dietary group have been found to be the most likely of all to achieve their daily fibre requirement.

The proteins in animal products are very highly concentrated and most people who eat meat take in far more protein than their bodies can cope with. This can lead to conditions like gout, arthritis, rheumatism, fibrositis and deficiencies in niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and other minerals.

A high protein diet also puts enormous strain on the pancreas -- an organ that produces enzymes for the digestion of proteins but also for fighting cancer. It is worth remembering that 147,000 (1981) people die of cancer every year in Britain.

It is not widely known that most vegetables contain useful amounts of protein. Particularly rich sources include nuts, pulses, grains, seeds, green leafy vegetables and potatoes.

25 What about iron?

The average vegan diet not only supplies twice the minimum daily requirement of iron but also up to three times the daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron in the body, consequently vegans rarely suffer from anaemia.

Studies have shown the incidence of anaemia in vegetarians and meat eaters to be roughly the same.

Rich plant sources of iron include dried fruits, whole grains nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds, pulses, molasses, and seaweeds. Using iron pots and pans can also contribute to a dietary intake.

26 What about calcium?

There have been no reports of calcium deficiencies in vegans. It has been shown that animal protein causes the body to excrete calcium more quickly than plant protein does. This may be one reason why vegans and vegetarians are less at risk from osteoporosis.

Rich plant sources of calcium include tofu (contains more than four times the calcium of cow's milk), green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, molasses and seaweeds.

27 What about vitamin D?

Vitamin D is produced by the action of the sunlight on the skin. Although it is available in fortified foods like margarine, a little fresh air every day (even if it's cloudy) is all you need.

28 What about vitamin B12?

The human body needs only minute amounts of vitamin B12 and is able to conserve it when supplies are scarce. Deficiency is extremely rare and actually doesn't affect vegans any more than it affects nonvegans. It is usually caused by an inability to absorb the vitamin rather than a dietary deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the small intestine, it is possible that the body can absorb all it needs from there. Not enough research has been done yet, but it may explain how some life-long vegans, who never take supplements, remain in excellent health.

Vitamin B12 is not found in most plants but it is often present in micro-organisms living on them. Although most of these organisms are destroyed by modern chemical agriculture, it does suggest that fresh, raw and organically grown produce could be a valuable source. But again, the research has not yet been done.

Vegans generally needn't worry too much about B12 but it is probably prudent to take a supplement occasionally.

29 You would have to eat so much

Totally untrue as any vegan or vegetarian will tell you. Try it and see!


30 We would be overrun with livestock

There are huge numbers of farm animals but it is not as if they would ever be let loose overnight. They are only farmed in such large numbers because it is profitable. As vegetarianism and veganism grow so the demand for meat will decline and farm animals will be bred in decreasing numbers. Those that are left will undoubtedly be will cared for by a society that has put compassion before taste and profit.

31 What would happen to all the farm animals?

See 30.

32 There would be fewer animals in the world

90% of the agricultural land in this country is used either directly on indirectly to feed livestock. It has been estimated that a vegan Britain could be self-sufficient in food on about 25% of the land currently being farmed. This would free vast areas of land that could be returned to the wild, all those millions of acres of sterile crops would become densely populated ecosystems. There would be more animals in this country than there have been for hundreds of thousands of years.

33 Many customs and traditions would be destroyed

Other examples of customs and traditions include sexism, racism, torture, public executions and witch burning.

For society to progress some customs and traditions have to be abandoned.

34 There wouldn't be enough food

90% of the agricultural land in this country is used either directly or indirectly to feed livestock. We actually produce enough food to feed 250 million people.

There are over 500 million severely undernourished people in the world, 50 thousand die every day of starvation.

It has been estimated that a vegan Britain could be self-sufficient in food on about 25% of the land currently being farmed.

35 Many people would lose their jobs

The move towards vegetarianism/veganism is a gradual process. As less and less people are employed in the animal-based industries so more and more will find work in the industries that replace them. Some people may well lose their jobs and every effort must be made to find them new employment. But let us not forget that the animals upon whom their jobs are based are losing their lives.


36 I didn't kill the animal

The people who buy meat are solely responsible for the deaths, in Britain alone, of over 700 million animals every year. The killing is done at their request and financed with their money. Their guilt is inescapable.

37 The animals are killed humanely

In their 1984 report, the Government's own advisory committee, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) said that animal welfare in British slaughterhouses had a "low priority". They criticized the "woeful ignorance" of the slaughterhouse staff, the continuous and unnecessary use of painful electric goads to move the animals and thought it "highly probable" that stunning methods used before killing did not render the animals insensitive to pain. All in all they made 117 recommendations for improvement, only a few of which have ever been implemented.

The conditions at slaughter though are not the main issue. It is the killing itself that is wrong and it remains wrong however 'humanely' it is done. Would we ever excuse a child murderer for killing his victims 'humanely'?

38 The animals are bred for it

Animals that are bred for food are just as capable of suffering as their wild counterparts and it is their suffering which is at issue.

39 The animals are here to be used

Animals are not a means to a human end; they are independent, free-thinking individuals with their own needs and desires. We have no need and therefore no right to cause them suffering and death.

40 If it wasn't for the meat industry the animals would never have been born

Surely it is better for an animal born into a short miserable and painful life ending in a violent death that it was never born at all. Which would you prefer?

41 The animals have never known anything better

Not having known anything better does not alleviate the suffering of the animal. Its fundamental desires remain and it is the frustration of those desires that is a great part of its suffering. There are so many examples: the dairy cow who is never allowed to raise her young, the battery hen who can never walk or stretch her wings, the sow who can never build a nest or root for food in the forest litter etc. Eventually we frustrate the animal's most fundamental desire of all -- to live.

42 The animals have got to die sometime/or something

So have humans but that does not give you a reason or excuse to kill someone.

43 Veganism and vegetarianism are socially difficult

Although vegetarianism has become widely accepted now, veganism is still regarded with suspicion by most people. This will only change as veganism grows, so rather than an excuse for complacency it is a reason in itself to do what you can now.

The priorities are clear, no animal should have to suffer or die to save you a little social inconvenience. Any life is worth more than that.

44 A great deal of pleasure is gained from animal products

To cause the suffering and death of others for pleasure is wrong. This is common moral sense and is believed by most people in the world. Surely, in our endless ingenuity, we can find other ways to enjoy ourselves?

45 Just my turning vegan/vegetarian wouldn't make any difference

In their lifetime the average British meat-eater eats 36 pigs, 36 sheep, 8 cattle and 550 poultry. That may be only a comparatively tiny contribution to the meat industry but vegetarianism grows. I was inspired by others to become vegetarian (and later vegan), people have followed me and still others have followed them. We can all make a difference because none of us is alone.

If the number of vegetarians in this country only doubled it would save 60 million lives every year.

46 Animal product industries are worth a lot of money

You cannot justify or defend a practice on the grounds that it is profitable. After all, a great many crimes are very profitable too. We should ask ourselves not how much an animal's life is worth to us but how much it is worth to the animal -- for whom it is everything.

47 Animals have adapted to farming

Animals have been forced into adaptations that increase their productivity by straining their bodies often beyond their physical limits. Typical examples include the dairy cow who may go lame as she breaks down her own body tissues to produce 10 times her natural yield (see 12), and broiler chickens, 6% of whom die from the physical strain of increasing their body weight 50-60 times in seven weeks.

Forced adaptations only increase the suffering of farm animals.

48 Vegan/vegetarian food is too expensive

Animal products, especially meat and cheese are the most expensive of all our staple food stuffs. The more of them you cut out and replace with the much cheaper (and healthier) fruit and vegetables the more money you are going to save.


49 Farmers have to kill pests

Animals become pests not through their own faults but through ours. Many are escapees from fur farms, feral pets or were deliberately introduced to the wild for 'sport'. On farmland the ecosystem is thrown out of balance. Any animals suited to the particular crop being grown quickly multiply. We cannot justify killing these animals for what are our mistakes. We must find other solutions.

In the wild there is sadly very little we can do. In the end it will be the animals themselves who limit their own numbers as the environment adjusts to accommodate them.

On farmland though, there is a great deal we can do and most of the lessons have already been learned. For thousands of years tribal peoples all over the world have used farming methods based on natural ecosystems where potential pest populations are self-regulating. These ideas are now being explored in organic farming and permaculture.

Unfortunately I cannot go into detail here on such an enormous subject.

50 Even vegan farms would deprive wild animals of their habitat

It has been estimated that a vegan Britain could be self-sufficient in food on about 25% of the land currently being farmed. This would free vast areas that could be returned to wildlife.

The land is not something we own; it is something we share. We must use it responsibly, respecting the needs of the animals we share it with and taking only what we need.


51 Is vegetarianism/veganism safe during pregnancy?

Pregnant women have special dietary needs and must always take care to ensure they receive all the nutrients that they and their developing children need. These nutrients can all be easily obtained on vegan and vegetarian diets.

A 1987 survey found that a well-planned vegan diet during pregnancy could reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia.

52 Is vegetarianism/veganism safe for babies and children?

The British Medical Journal report 'Nutrition and Health' states that: "the vegetarian diet is adequate for the nutritional needs of infants". Vegan and vegetarian children thrive. Vegan children in particular tend to be slimmer than their peers and therefore less prone to obesity-related diseases.

53 Does a vegetarian/vegan diet require specialist knowledge?

The basic principles of healthy eating are not difficult to grasp and have nowadays become almost common knowledge.

The same principles apply whether you be vegan, vegetarian or otherwise: eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, and wholefoods and cut down on saturated fats, sugar, salt and alcohol.

There is nothing in animal products that has to be carefully compensated for (except, perhaps, vitamin B12. See 28). Many of them do us a lot more harm than good (see 4, 9, 15 and 20). Cutting out animal products only makes a 'healthy' diet healthier.

54 How do you know that plants don't suffer?

To experience suffering you must have a central nervous system to feel pain and a degree of intelligence to suffer from that pain or to feel grief. A plant has neither. We therefore have no reason to believe that they suffer.

55 Shouldn't a plant have rights?

We attribute rights to an individual because without those rights they may suffer. As plants are incapable of suffering (see 54) they cannot possess rights.

This does not excuse the wanton destruction of plant life as is happening now all over the world because we animals, who do possess rights, depend on those plants for our survival. Without plant life there can be no life on Earth.

56 What's wrong with free-range meat?

See 22.

57 Animals convert plants we can't eat into meat we can

True, but more relevant is the fact that to keep us in animal products we don't need we feed the livestock alone in this country with enough food for 250 million people.

There are over 500 million severely undernourished people in the world. Thirty million die of starvation every year.

58 What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?

It is not the eating of meat that is wrong but the killing of animals unnecessarily. As meat eating is unnecessary and generally requires the killing of an animal, it usually follows that meat eating is wrong. If, however, you managed to obtain some meat without killing an animal (or by paying someone else to kill it for you) -- for example, by stumbling across an animal that was already dead -- then I can see no moral objection to your eating it. Of course this also applies to human meat.

Recent archeological evidence suggests that early humans were much more inclined toward scavenging than hunting.

59 What about honey?

Bees are astoundingly complex creatures, they have memory and an ability to apply it to novel situations. They have an intricate social structure and are able to communicate detailed information to each other.

Millions upon millions of bees are killed every year in commercial honey production both intentionally and unintentionally.

It is difficult to say to what degree a creature so vastly different to us is capable of suffering but we don't need honey -- so surely it would be better to spare the lives of these miraculous creatures?



60 Most fur animals are bred for it

Animals bred specifically for their fur are not only deprived of their lives, but unlike their wild counterparts, they are also deprived of their freedom. Fur farming is therefore an even greater abuse of animal rights than hunting and trapping.

In the wild, a mink will defend a territory of 2 1/2 miles of riverbank or 22 acres of marshland. An arctic fox ranges over anything from 2,100-15,000 acres and yet on fur farms these animals are kept in tiny wire mesh cages. Such is their frustration that they become psychotic. Many are driven to cannibalism and self-mutilation.

61 The animals have got to die sometime/of something

See 42.

62 Most fur animals are pests

See 49.

63 Fur is a product of careful and necessary culling

Culling is a term which usually describes the killing of animals that we consider to be in some way damaging to the environment. In other words pests (see 49). We arrogantly exclude from this solution the single most damaging animal of all -- ourselves.

Of the tens of millions of animals killed for their fur every year the vast majority are either farmed or trapped in their natural habitat where, as part of a natural ecosystem, they pose no threat to the environment.

64 Most fur animals are killers themselves

Some animals are predators. They have to kill other animals in order to survive. Human beings choose to kill animals for material profit, vanity and because they like the taste of them. It is not the same thing at all -- the predators have no choice, we do.

65 Animals suffer in the wild anyway

Animals can, and often do, suffer in the wild but that does not give us a reason or excuse to add to their suffering.

66 I didn't kill the animal

The animal was killed for you and at your expense. Your money will also finance the slaughter of many more.

You don't have to physically kill something (or someone) to be guilty of their death.

67 Fur gives pleasure to many people

See 44.

68 Many people's whole way of life depends on the fur trade

The greatest strength of humankind lies in its endless ability to adapt. People can change their way of life given the opportunity (and they must be given that opportunity) but for the animals that are killed there is no life, they have lost everything.


69 The animal was killed for food not leather

The animal was killed for profit and every last part of it was sold to achieve that profit. It makes no difference which particular parts you buy, the money all goes the same way (the skin represents about 10% of the animals 'value').

70 People have always used leather

People have certainly been using leather for at least 600,000 years but we've been having wars and murdering each other just as long. The antiquity of a practice is neither a guarantee of its morality nor a justification for it.

71 There is no substitute for leather

When people say there is no substitute for leather they are usually referring to their footwear. But there are many alternatives. Canvas, for example, is a natural and hard- wearing material that will see you through most (if not all) of the year.

Then there are plastics (even leather shoes usually have plastic soles) and rubber. More recently, advances have been made with waterproof and breathable synthetics like Goretex and there are now companies specializing in using materials that have the appearance and qualities of real leather.

Canvas shoes are widely available but some of the newer products are not. Their availability will only increase with demand, so seek them out.

72 Leather is environmentally friendly

Leather is far from environmentally friendly; its production involves the use of lead, zinc, formaldehyde and cyanide based products. On the other hand, the synthetic alternatives can be just as bad. Environmentally speaking there is little to choose between them. The big difference is that the leather is a product of the suffering and death of millions upon millions or animals.

The ethical choice is clear. but at the same time, every effort must be made to protect the environment. It seems that the best choice, whenever possible, is canvas.


73 Shearing doesn't harm the sheep

Millions of lambs and sheep die every year worldwide from exposure to cold after shearing. One million die in Australia alone.

74 Shearing is a relief for sheep in warmer weather

See 73.

75 There is no substitute for real wool

There are plenty of substitutes for wool, from good old cotton in its infinite forms to the modern and actually far more efficient synthetic "fleece" products.

76 Sheep are "free-range

Although attempts are being made to factory farm sheep, most of them remain effectively free-range. But why should that make them any more deserving of unnecessary suffering and death? (See 22, 73 and 77).

77 Other points concerning wool

Domestic sheep have lost their natural resistance to fly-strike -- an agonizing disease in which maggots burrow and eat their way into the animal's flesh. In this country, to prevent the disease, many lambs have their tails docked, often by cutting without anaesthetic. In Australia they prevent the disease by performing an operation called 'mulesing' in which folds of skin around the sheep's anus are sheared off, again without anaesthetic. They do this to 80% of their sheep (30% of the world's wool comes from Australia).

Of UK wool, 27% is 'skin wool' (pulled from the skins of slaughtered sheep and lambs).

Wool represents only 3-10% of a sheep farmer's profit, the rest being made mostly through the sale of lambs for slaughter. Altogether 20 million sheep and lambs are slaughtered in this country every year.


78 What about any fur, leather or wool you already own?

Do what you like with it, the damage has already been done.

79 Animal product industries are worth a lot of money

See 46.

80 What about silk?

The silkworm (the caterpillar of the silk moth) can certainly feel and recoil and writhe when injured. It is difficult to say, in an animal so vastly different from us, whether this constitutes suffering, but, as they are killed in the millions (by baking, steaming, electrocution or microwaves) for yet another product we simply don't need, surely it would be better to give them the benefit of the doubt?

81 What about photographic film?

Gelatine (obtained by boiling the skins, tendons, and bones of animals) is used in the production of photographic film. It is virtually impossible to avoid film and photographs in our society (see also 161), all we can really do is make known our objections. Though the technology exists to replace photographic film, its price is currently prohibitive and there is insufficient demand. Hopefully, with the growth of vegetarianism and veganism, this situation will soon change.



82 Vivisection has achieved great advances in medicine

Humans and other animals are physiologically different. Vivisection is misleading because one animal's reaction to a disease, drug or procedure can be radically different to another's (see 84).

One hundred years of animal experimentation have failed to provide any major breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and heart disease -- two of our biggest killers, though both these diseases remain largely preventable.

Vaccinations developed through animal experiments have been shown to have had no effect on the incidence of diphtheria, smallpox, polio, TB, whooping cough and tetanus. At the time vaccination began these diseases were already on the decline due to improvements in water sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. Despite vaccination, they continued to decline at the same rate.

Blood transfusion was delayed 200 years by misleading animal experiments. Corneal transplants were delayed 90 years. We may never have had penicillin at all had it been tested on guinea pigs -- it kills them.

83 Medicine relies on vivisection

Medicine is hindered by vivisection (see 82, 84 and 94).

84 Vivisection is the only way to ensure a product is safe for humans

The following drugs were all passed safe in animal experiments with tragic consequences:

Eraldin -- Caused blindness, stomach troubles, joint pains and growths.

Opren -- 3,500 people suffered serious side effects including damage to skin, eyes, circulation, liver and kidneys. 70 people died.

Flosint -- Caused 7 deaths.

Osmosin -- 650 people had side-effects. 20 died.

Chloramphenicol -- Caused fatal blood disorders.

Thalidomide -- Caused about 10,000 birth defects worldwide.

Clioquinol -- Caused 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis and thousands of deaths.

Conversely, many drugs which are beneficial to humans are dangerous or even fatal to animals:

Penicillin -- Antibiotic in humans but kills guinea pigs.

Digitalis -- A heart drug for humans but causes high blood pressure in dogs.

Chlorophorm -- Anaesthetic in humans but poisonous to dogs.

Morphine -- Calms humans and rats but causes manic excitement in cats and mice.

Aspirin -- Causes birth defects in rats, mice, monkeys, guinea pigs, cats and dogs, but not in humans.

85 The advancement of knowledge is more important that the welfare and lives of animals

Knowledge has given us many great things from the wheel to the printing press but it also gave us the thumbscrew and the nuclear bomb. It is only a power for good when it is driven by compassion and compassion forbids that we should cause the suffering and death of others for our own ends.


86 It wouldn't be done if it wasn't necessary

There are about 18,000 licensed medicines in Britain all of which, by law, have to be tested on animals. And yet according to the World Health Organization (WHO) only about 200 of these are actually necessary, the rest are only variations of the same drugs produced entirely for profit by large pharmaceutical companies.

87 Vivisection benefits animals too

Worldwide, vivisection costs the lives of 100 million animals every year, many of whom are literally tortured to death. It is difficult to see how this is of benefit to them.

88 The animals are anaesthetized

In the UK 60-70% of all procedures on laboratory animals are performed without anaesthetic.

89 The suffering is kept to a minimum

Typical animal experiments include: the Draize Eye Test -- in which substances are put into the eyes of restrained rabbits (rabbits' eyes do not produce enough tears to wash the substances away); and the LD (Lethal Dose) 50 Test -- in which a group of animals is fed a substance until 50% of them have been poisoned to death. Laboratory animals are given our most agonizing, crippling, and fatal diseases; they are deliberately caused psychological stress in behavioural experiments, they are burned, scalded, electrocuted, injured and mutilated. In the UK, 60-70% of all procedures on laboratory animals are performed without anaesthetic.


90 Humans are more important than animals

The instinct for self-preservation is one of the strongest; your life is more important to you than any other because it is all you have but, of course, the same can equally be said of other animals.

Some people argue that our intelligence makes us more important that other animals but that would imply that a human's value was also proportional to his/her intelligence; you would be less important than someone with a higher IQ and some mentally handicapped people would be less important than many animals, making them a more appropriate (and less misleading -- see 82 and 84) choice for vivisection.

If you take an objective view of our place amongst life on earth, it soon becomes clear that we are the most destructive and damaging of all creatures and in that respect certainly less valuable.

Our intellectual capacity gives us the ability to always win when our interests and those of another species clash, but that does not give us a moral victory. The only quality we have that sets us 'above' other animals is compassion, and compassion forbids that we cause suffering and death of others for our own ends.

91 What if a choice must be made between a human and an animal?

Research is always going on into the possibilities of successful organ transplants from animals to humans. Pigs are being bred specifically for that purpose but the tragedy of people in need of such treatment is not the fault of the animals. The animals have their own lives to lead and cling to their lives as dearly as humans cling to theirs.

One individual may give their life to save another but the choice must always be theirs and not ours (see also 90 and 173).

92 A human life has more potential that an animal's life

The potential of an individual is an enormous subject; it refers to any aspect of their existence that is possible! The human mind undoubtedly gives us potential far in excess of any other species but this is not a measure of our value because potential is always dualistic in nature.

Positive potential is always balanced by an equal and opposite negative one; we can be happy, but we can also be sad, we can reproduce but we can kill, we can create but also destroy. Our true value lies in what we are, not in what we may come to be.

The tragedy is that our position amongst life on Earth has been largely defined by our potential to destroy.

93 Most substances have been tested on animals at some time

True, but we cannot change the past, those who have already suffered and died are lost. The important thing is that we change the future by choosing only the products of companies that have renounced vivisection and thereby force others to follow.

94 Animal rights are anti-science

Animal rights are pro good science. We must abandon the cruel (see 89) and misleading (see 82 and 84) practice of vivisection and pour our ingenuity and resources into the many alternative systems. These include high technology analytical techniques that allow scientists to study the effects of minute quantities of a substance in humans, tests on human tissues maintained in test tubes, complex computer programmes that can predict the effects of new drugs and epidemiological studies of the causes and spread of disease.

95 Animal rights are anti-human

Humans are animals, therefore animal rights are human rights.



96 Humans have a hunting instinct

Possibly, but as human beings we are able to recognize and inhibit our instinctive desires. That is why most men are not rapists.

Feeling an urge to do something does not necessarily justify your doing it. Whatever hunting instincts we have are better satisfied in the pursuit of sports and games than in causing the unnecessary suffering and death of other animals.

97 Hunting is traditional

See 33.

98 Rural communities support hunting

Actually many rural communities do not support hunting but it wouldn't make any difference if they did, if it's wrong it's wrong no matter who supports it. It is worth remembering that rural communities also supported slavery.

99 Urban people do not understand country life

It is true that many urban people have a fairly naive view of country life and it is frustrating for country people to be told by them how to live. But, conversely, for many country people, the killing of animals is such an ingrained part of their lives it is hard for them to understand that they could or should be living their lives without it.

100 Hunters are conservationists

It is, of course, in the interest of hunters (including anglers) to protect the environment that provides their 'sport' but wild animals should not have to pay for conservation with their lives. Conservation is a responsibility shared by all people and not a job for a minority to be paid for in animal lives.

101 Many people's whole way of life depends on hunting

See 68.


102 Most hunted animals are pests and vermin

See 49.

103 How else would you control their numbers?

See 49.

104 Animals suffer in the wild anyway

See 65.


105 Foxes enjoy the hunt

It seems unlikely that foxes "enjoy" being hunted but it is possible that they do not experience any great fear until the closing stages of a 'successful' hunt. The fox can become exhausted but the length of the run is more usually limited by the inclination of the hunters. The point is that we have no right to be hunting foxes at all (see also 49, 106, 107, 108, and 109).

106 Foxes kill beyond necessity

Foxes have been known to get into chicken coops and kill far more that they could possibly eat but this is our fault not theirs.

The fox is largely a predator, if it gets within grabbing distance of a bird it's going to try to kill it. That is how it survives. In the wild all but one and usually all of the chickens would have escaped but because we have chosen to hold them captive they are all at the mercy of the fox who behaves, in this unnatural situation, only according to his instincts -- like a child given free rein in a sweet shop (see also 49).

107 The foxes have a chance to escape

It is, I hope, fairly obvious that you cannot justify cruel and unnecessary killing by giving your victim "a chance to escape".

108 Foxes hunt, why shouldn't they be hunted?

Foxes are predators, they have to kill other animals in order to survive. Human beings choose to kill foxes for "sport". It is not the same thing at all; foxes have no choice, we do.

109 People only do it for the thrill of the chase

But you don't have to kill to enjoy the thrill of the chase. Fox hunters can (and many do) have just as much fun chasing a trail of artificially laid scent (drag hunting) or point-to- pointing.


110 Zoos propagate endangered species

There are nearly 6,000 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate in danger of extinction. Another 578 are listed as vulnerable. It has been estimated that, every day, between 50 and 100 species of plant or animal become extinct through loss of habitat, poaching or pollution.

A tiny handful of species has been saved by captive breeding programmes in a few of the 'better' zoos but in view of the enormity of the problem this can only be a token gesture. The only real solution is the complete protection of wild habitats and a massive international effort to stem pollution and end the poaching of endangered species.

111 Zoo animals are well cared for

Wild animals are designed specifically to look after themselves, their whole life and entire evolution has adapted them perfectly for this purpose and they are remarkably good at it. Any care given to imprisoned animals by humans can only be inferior to this.

The best way to care for a wild animal is to set it free it its native environment (see also 112).

112 Zoo life is easier than life in the wild

In the wild an animal endures a great deal of stress, from the threat of predation, the constant search for food and often a hostile environment, but millions of years of evolution have so entirely adapted them to cope with that stress that they cannot function properly without it.

A wild animal in captivity, like a human being in prison, is presented with an entirely different kind of stress (boredom mostly), with which it is simply not designed to cope. That is why so many zoo animals become mentally ill, displaying stereotypical behaviour like rocking and swaying, compulsive grooming, pacing up and down, head twisting and banging, vomiting, self-mutilation, infanticide, aggression and apathy. An animal's place, easy or not, is in the wild.

113 The animals don't know any better

Those that were born in the wild obviously do know something better but even if they did not it would not alter the fact that they are caused suffering in captivity (see 112) and deserve better.

114 Most people would never see wild animals if it wasn't for zoos

Most people will never see Australian aborigines or Mongolian nomads but that is not a good reason to put them is zoos. To imprison individuals just so that you can look at them is obviously wrong.

115 Zoos encourage interest in, and sympathy for, animals

To encourage a good attitude towards animals by imprisoning them is a ridiculous contradiction. It would be fairer to lock up people who have a bad attitude towards animals.

116 Zoos give pleasure to many people

To imprison animals for pleasure is wrong. Animals have a right to their freedom just as we do. Surely we can find ways to enjoy ourselves without abusing the rights of others?

117 Much has been learned about wild animals by studying them in captivity

We don't need knowledge of wild animals and the only time they need our knowledge of them is when they are in some way threatened by our actions. A more logical approach would be to study them in their natural environment whilst ensuring that they and their environment are completely protected.

118 Zoos are educational

See 117.


119 Circuses are traditional

See 33.

120 Circuses give pleasure to many people

We have no right to use animals for our entertainment, they have their own lives to lead irrespective of any use we may have for them. Surely we can find ways to enjoy ourselves without abusing the rights of others? (See also 121).

121 Circuses are a way of life

Animal acts form only one part of a circus. Many circuses now do not use them at all. Abandoning animal exploitation does not mean that we cannot continue to have and enjoy circuses.

122 The animals wouldn't perform if they didn't want to

Circus animals, usually wild species, often perform very unnatural acts: elephants balance on tubs, bears ice-skate and dance, lions jump through hoops etc.

And they do so in a totally alien environment of noise and bright lights.

Not surprisingly, a considerable amount of "persuasion" is required to achieve these performances and to this end circuses employ various techniques. These include deprivation of food, deprivation of company, intimidation, muzzling, drugs, punishment and reward systems, shackling, whips, electronic goads, sticks and the noise of guns.

123 The animals are trained by kindness

See 122.

124 The animals are healthy

Circus animals suffer similar mental and physical problems to zoo animals (see 112) displaying stereotypical behaviour like pacing up and down, swaying from side to side, infant neglect, apathy and boredom. Physical symptoms include shackle sores, herpes, liver failure, kidney disease and sometimes death.

125 The animals are well cared for

An animal cannot be well cared for in a circus, apart from the cruelty of training and performance (see 122) no attempt is, or even can be made to simulate the animal's natural environment. Much of its time is spent traveling, usually in a 'beast wagon'. These are lorry trailers with bars on one side and blank wooden or metal walls on the other three. The animal's social life is completely destroyed, often solitary predators like tigers are forced to live in large groups. Many of the animals become both physically and mentally ill (see 124).

126 The animals don't know any better

Those that were born in the wild obviously do know something better but even if they did not it would not alter the fact that they suffer in circuses (see 122 and 125) and deserve better.

127 The animals wouldn't survive in the wild

Most circus animals, having spent their lives in such an alien environment, would have little chance of survival in the wild. They would probably need human care for the rest of their lives.

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